Community leaders gather for discussion on racism - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Community leaders gather for discussion on racism

The group met at Demiller Hall in Biloxi for the discussion (Image Source: WLOX News) The group met at Demiller Hall in Biloxi for the discussion (Image Source: WLOX News)
A larger workshop will be held in the fall (Image Source: WLOX News) A larger workshop will be held in the fall (Image Source: WLOX News)
The People's Group for Survival and Beyond lead the discussion (Image Source: WLOX News) The People's Group for Survival and Beyond lead the discussion (Image Source: WLOX News)
SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) -

A unique conversation joined leaders of different community organizations to speak very candidly about race. The People's Group for Survival and Beyond, based out of New Orleans, was invited to the Coast Monday to host a small version of its signature workshop on undoing racism.

“We want to create an environment where people feel safe, even in the midst of discomfort. To really be honest and ask a question they may have always wanted to ask across race lines and just to genuinely build community,” said Kimberley Richards, who is an organizer and trainer with the group.

The discussion was just a preview of a three day workshop they plan to have in September. The conversation delved in to understanding where racism comes from and how it can be undone.

“They help us build the foundation to have those honest discussions to lift up race when we see it, to acknowledge it, to know how to talk with one another to reduce our defensiveness,” said Roberta Avila, who is Director of Steps Coalition

Jaleasa Walden, who is the Director of Community Engagement for the STEPS Coalition, says there is always a need for this type of discussion in every community, especially South Mississippi.

“We have a lot of different issues going on in the Mississippi Gulf Coast, and just getting to the core of the problem or addressing the elephant in the room might help us move past and make Mississippi a better Mississippi,” said Walden.

Walden says she hopes to see a big turnout at the fall workshop, because discussions on understanding and ending racism are vital in bringing social equity.

“This conversation, the race conversation, undoing racism, talking about race, talking about our cultural differences, it's a perfect time to just engage in that conversation to make our Coast better,” said Walden.

No dates have been set for the fall workshop yet, but the groups say anyone is invited to attend. For more information, just call the STEPS Coalition at 228-435-3113.

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